A few years back, I would have jumped at an opportunity to teach dance. In my head, it was just an opportunity to dance. In fact I remember I started a small informal dance class at Oracle. It was a way for me to be in touch with my bharatanatyam and I gladly grabbed the opportunity without a second blink. Looking back I’m aghast!! Of course, it wasn’t a serious class, not a long term commitment, I was doing it for free and it was an informal fun gathering but still… what was I thinking?!
When I was graduating from Attakkalari and freaking out about what I am going to do with life, I knew only one thing. I wanted to get back to my bharatanatyam training. But who is going to pay for my training? I didn’t want to ask my family. I definitely didn’t want to go back to corporate. The natural obvious choice was to teach bharatanatyam, the form I had been practicing for 20 years, but this time some gut feeling stopped me. Instead, I took up a small part time job in a pre-school. Teaching kids movement. This is a choice I still look back at fondly. Being with kids makes me happy. And it paid for my training.
It wasn’t until later, as I sat across my guru Rukmini Vijayakumar, eating rava idli in Vasudeva Adigas after a grueling morning class (yes I remember all the details) , when I think she finally acknowledged that I was serious about dancing full time. She told me that if I wanted to train seriously and be a dancer, I cannot teach bharatanatyam until she felt I was ready. The reasoning is very simple although as my guru I don’t think she even needed to reason this out with me. How can you teach something, if your guru doesn’t think you are prepared for it? I gladly agreed because I was willing to accept and was eager to learn.
I think willingness and open-ness to accept that you aren’t ready for something, is the first step towards real growth. Actually, trust is the first step. Trust in your guru. And then be willing to accept. You will automatically grow.
Today, as I take on “teaching” with the blessings of my guru, I feel a much much bigger and stronger sense of responsibility. I actually KNOW that I am not ready. But I also know that a lot of readiness comes from the experience of teaching itself. I learn a lot of things when I make lesson plans. I learn a lot through the questions students ask and there are things I notice when teaching that I don’t notice when dancing. I know I practice my adavus alone because I have to be in good form for my students. Of course, the most obvious reasoning being – I have to make a living somewhere!
But I am so so so glad I waited. That I gave myself the time to train when I needed it most. I am glad that I am aware that teaching doesn’t mean that my training is complete. Glad I’ve reached a stage where I still have time to train and work on myself without having to go back to a corporate job. Glad that I have started teaching.
Life is constantly showing me that everything happens for a reason. No-one can ever be 100% ready for any big change. But be true to yourself and take things as they come.